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Halfway

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2024 12:00 am

Halfway

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 30, 2024 12:00 am

Are you feeling stuck halfway through a daunting task? Nehemiah’s story of rebuilding Jerusalem's walls offers valuable lessons on perseverance and faith. When faced with opposition, Nehemiah and his team pushed through the ridicule and discouragement to complete their mission.

Join us as we dive into Nehemiah 4 and explore how the halfway point often brings the toughest challenges. Learn how Nehemiah responded to criticism and threats, and how his unwavering commitment to God’s plan led to ultimate success. What can you do when you hit the halfway mark and feel like giving up?

Discover practical insights and encouragement to help you overcome obstacles and stay the course in your spiritual journey. Tune in and find the strength to keep building, no matter the challenges you face.

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The halfway point of any project is perhaps the most difficult point to push through. Whether you're running the mile and you've run half of it and you push past that, or whether you're halfway through a difficult course or semester, maybe it's a renovation project in your home and you're halfway finished and you can't see the goal from the mess around you. Halfway is a difficult hurdle in life. The newness has worn off and you hear yourself saying to somebody, well now I know what I've gotten into. We've all been there. That halfway point. Maybe it's a marathon. Maybe a demanding project. Or maybe it's life itself. You know that feeling? The newness has worn off, but the finish line is not yet in sight and all you can see is the pile of obstacles still ahead.

It's enough to make you want to quit. Well, in Nehemiah, we discover a group of people who faced that halfway hurdle head on, all while being actively opposed by a very real enemy. Stay with us to discover how they pushed past discouragement and what you can learn for your own life of faith. It was many years ago at the beginning of a major conflict in Europe when Germany mounted an invasion on Poland and Poland wasn't too troubled. They had a history of repelling the attacks of barbarians from warring neighboring nations. Besides, they were known for their skilled horsemanship. Their horses were among Europe's finest horses. So when they learned that German forces were advancing, they prepared 12 brigades of their finest warriors and with swords flashing in the sunlight, sounded the charge and their horses surged forward with great powerful strides. Trouble was, this was not a war fought a thousand years ago. This was the beginning of World War II.

Manchester in his biography of Winston Churchill wrote that their horses galloped proudly right into the path of newly designed German panzer tanks. The outcome was predictable. Total annihilation.

Total devastation. I am convinced that we believers often expect to take on the enemy of our soul with methods that rival galloping at full speed into the face of a German tank. The devil, Lucifer, Satan, the father of lies is on a search and destroy mission.

He cannot have the soul of the believer but he can have your song. And he seeks to deceive. He seeks to destroy.

He seeks to distract. He seeks to divide any believer or company of believers that seek to advance the kingdom of light and bring glory to the prince of heaven. Open your Bibles please to the book of Ephesians chapter 6 and notice with me what kind of war this is and what kind of weapons we're to use. Paul writes, finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Then we're commanded in verse 11, put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything to stand firm. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, we are to be properly prepared for battle.

You don't resist German tanks on horseback and you do not resist the lures of the red dragon with an hour of worship once a week and maybe a blessing before lunch and dinner. We are to clothe ourselves in the armor of the warrior which has been so designed by God for the Christian warrior to resist this dragon. One of the pieces of armor designed by our Lord that I often think of in my own personal struggle with the enemy is the shield of faith. It is an essential weapon and I do say weapon because it is not only defensive but as I'll show you it is offensive. Paul refers to the shield in verse 16.

Look there. The shield of faith which is able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. The shield has to do with the object of our faith.

Faith is never something that we try to drum up. Its significance is the object of our faith. We can have weak faith and resist. The object of our faith is in the reality of God's person. Number one, David the psalmist wrote thou oh Lord art a shield about me. The object of our faith is in a living real personal God. Our shield is also faith in the reality of God's promises and our shield is faith in God's providence. His person, his promises and his providence he said by means of his providence that all things would work together for your spiritual good so that ultimately verse 29 of Romans 8 says you will be conformed into the image of his son that is all things are designed to develop character in you and glorify the name of God.

God is behind every scene engineering everything toward the praise of his glory whether we can see it or not. I was on the phone a number of years ago with a pastor named Charlie and he and I had been working out some arrangements together. He lived in a different state and we're working through with our calendars on a particular event and he didn't call me on Friday as he said that he would and so eventually that afternoon I called him. I said hey Charlie I haven't heard from you. I just wanted to follow up.

These dates gonna work. He said well Stephen he said I don't even know where my calendar is. Things are confusing right now for my family and I. You see last night our nine year old son was hit by a car and killed.

Could you call me back in a few days? In the thick of the battle circumstances occur and sure enough a fiery missile will hit directly into your shield of faith whose object is a personal God that's challenged. The promises of God are challenged. The providence of God is challenged and the message attached to the fiery missile is does God really care?

When's the last time you heard his voice? How do you know he cares? How do you know he's in control? Look at your life and you think you're right. You're right.

I don't think he does care. I don't think he is in control and you and you throw down your shield of faith but then look what happens to the warrior without a shield. More vulnerable than ever. I remember being so convicted because that same Thursday night one of our daughters had a 104.6 temperature and mom had her in the bathtub sponging her down to keep her from going into convulsions and I was down after midnight at this little drugstore trying to get something and I remember thinking to myself life is really lousy. Why can't you time these things a little more conveniently Lord?

Like after breakfast on my day off while I was commiserating it occurred to me later on that while I was in that drugstore Charlie was at a curbside where his life would change forever. This Roman shield that Paul talked about gives us insight into the operation of our faith as Christian soldiers. It was not a small shield. In fact it was often referred to as a door.

Four feet tall. They'd plant it in the ground and they'd hide behind it. It was wound with burlap or leather hides and doused with water so that when the flaming arrow came and hit the shield it would just fizzle out. So it protected the soldier from the fiery missiles of the enemy and by the way that shield protected every other piece of armor and that's an interesting study all its own. How faith is related to every other piece of armor. But secondly the shield also unified the army. The Romans had invented this shield to be beveled along the edges and hooked so that they could attach it as it were to the shields on either side of them thus forming this long wall of steel as the army moved forward against the enemy.

You could have a wall of steel approaching you as this army was unified. What a tremendous illustration of the church. We are to move forward with unified passion and purpose linking our shields with one another in this community and literally around the world as we attempt to glorify God and deepen our character for his glory. I always enjoy after the service people will come up. Some to make appointments, some to share problems, some to say I just got saved and others who knows I look forward.

Don't you look forward to the end of the service? Okay that was a trick question. I tried to set you up. This guy came up to me and he said Steven did you know that the apostles in the book of Acts used to drive around Jerusalem in the same automobile? I said well no I kind of missed that part.

What are you talking about? He said yeah in Acts it said they were all in one accord. He ruined that verse for me.

I'll never think in fact I just ruined it for you. You'll never think of that verse again without thinking of Honda. But you know what? What a wonderful thought.

Like a family that piles into a car or a van. You're headed in the same location so the body of believers as it were piles into the same vehicle and moves forward. One more point about the shield as I conclude my introduction. The shield not only protected the soldier and unified the army but it also reflected the son. What I discovered you could discovered as well with your Bible encyclopedia but in the center of each shield was a round piece of brass. They would attach it to the face of their shield and before going into battle the soldiers would polish that brass until it was like a mirror. And then as they walked in battle together they would turn their shields in such a way that the sunlight would be reflected off that brass into the eyes of their enemy. The believer reflects by faith the truth of God's son who is the light of the world.

The enemy is easily distracted by the brilliance of that light. He hates the name of Christ. He hates the gospel that has been defined by the life of Jesus Christ and his death and his burial and his resurrection. And so we reflect the light of this off of our shield of faith back against as it were the kingdom of darkness as we penetrate the darkness with the light of the gospel. So we advance. When the dragon approaches we hide behind our shields or we link it to another believer's shield but we reflect on the light of God's promises and the attributes of God's person and the security of God's providence. And we with our shields take one more step forward. Now where in all of the Old Testament perhaps do you find the shield of faith so clearly demonstrated than in the book of Nehemiah?

I invite you to chapter 4 and I want you to pitch your tent with me just inside the city gates as we rejoin our study and we watch these people grab on to their shields and so survive. We're told that another enemy army has just been added to the ranks of those who will fight against Jerusalem if they can. Verse 7, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and here they are the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on and that the breaches began to be closed. They were very angry. All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it. Now if you had a map and you looked at all of the enemy nations you would notice that with the addition of the Ashdodites, the former Philistines, to the west that Jerusalem is now completely surrounded.

There's no air for them to run. Verse 6 tells us why the enemies were so angry. It says we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height. They've taken that mile plus circumference and they have now built the wall to halfway.

There are no breaches, no holes where they can sort of run in. And so the Jews in Jerusalem are accomplishing their task and now this new plan to attack Jerusalem is unveiled. What perfect timing. I want to be as practical as I can here. What a wonderful time for the enemy to turn up the heat than when people are halfway finished. The halfway point of any project is perhaps the most difficult point to push through. Whether you're running the mile and you've run half of it and you push past that. Whether you're halfway through a difficult course or semester. Maybe it's a renovation project in your home and you're halfway finished and you can't see the goal from the mess around you. Halfway is a difficult hurdle in life. The newness has worn off and you hear yourself saying to somebody, well now I know what I've gotten into.

Right? It's a difficult part of life and pushing through. Even though the people prayed to God in verse 9 and they set up a guard, a popular song was being chanted in Jerusalem. Look at verse 10. Thus in Judah it was said, here's this poem.

They chanted. The strength of the burden bearers is failing and yet there is much rubbish and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall. What a song. But stop a moment and dissect this lure called discouragement. It happens to be one of Satan's most powerful tools in the life of any believer. I believe more believers head for the sidelines because of discouragement than perhaps any other thing. And it would not be surprising to discover that discouragement is often most deeply felt when you are halfway there. First of all, this poem tells us the people were tired.

Verse 10. The strength of the burden bearers is failing. That is the first half of the job has exhausted them. In fact, it's the easiest part because they can reach most of it.

From here on out it's scaffolding, it's ladders, it's hard work taking those stones up even higher and higher. We're tired. We're distracted, secondly, the people are saying. Notice the next line. Yet there is much rubbish. The key word is the word yet.

In other words, they're physically exhausted. They built half the wall. But in spite of all the work they've done, there is all of this literally dry earth, debris.

But did you notice where the people have begun to focus their attention? Not on what was finished, but on all of the rubbish. 100 years worth of it. 100 years worth of vines growing all over and around these huge massive rocks. Many of them which have tumbled down into the valley.

The first half was built by the stones that were easy to gather. Now the hard work is ahead. And they are distracted.

All they can see is the rubbish and the challenge. You're in the process of raising children. All you can see around you is what has to be done and not what is being done. You're in the middle of a project that is demanding and all you can see is that which has to be done, not that which has been accomplished. You're building a marriage. You've been in it long enough to know now that it takes mortar and rock, a chisel to his head. I mean a chisel.

That'll help too. You discover that the life of being a Christian warrior means there is challenge. We're tired. We're distracted. It's the hurdle of being halfway.

No wonder the song continues in verse 10 to tell us the people felt hopeless. Notice, and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall. We can't do it. We're physically exhausted, Nehemiah. The work doesn't let up.

Look around you. All of the rubbish, the debris on the mounds of earth that have been formed over the years as sifting winds rushed through the ruins of Jerusalem, we tried. We made it halfway. But this is all we can do.

Let's quit. And the dragon whispers, that's right. To make matters even worse, their discouragement was mixed with fear.

The fourth element is the people were afraid of their future. Verse 11, our enemies said they will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work. Here are Jews who live around the city of Jerusalem who come, verse 12, and they told us 10 times they will come up against us from every place where you may turn. This is so encouraging to have your Jewish friends come along 10 times and say every other day, you're not going to make it. You turn this way, I know they're going to be there waiting for you and they're going to put a knife in your ribs. You turn this way and off goes the head. You're not going to be able to finish the job and there's nowhere for you to run.

You think, well, thanks a lot. The people were ready to throw in the towel and run for cover. Verse 14 then comes along, it's the hinge verse of this chapter in this event. When I saw their fear, Nehemiah says, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people.

Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who was great and awesome. You see, the people were comparing their strength to the enemy and when they were coming to the conclusion the enemy's going to win. Nehemiah compares the enemy to the strength of God and there's no way the enemy can win. Let's just read now and it happened, verse 15, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, that is their surprise attack and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.

Can you imagine that? Sword in one hand, a trowel in the other. As for the builders, each wore his sword, girded at his side as he built while the trumpeter stood near me and I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, the work is great and extensive and we are separated on the wall far from one another.

They could be half a mile away. At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet rally to us there, our God will fight for us. So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. At that time I also said to the people, let each man with his servants spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.

In other words, there are 24 hour work shifts now. So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes. It is none of them had a fresh change of clothing now until the work was finished. And each took his weapon even to the water. Four timeless principles of defense. Number one, they prayed to God. Tell God before you tell anybody else. Second, they prepared for battle. Baxter wrote over 100 years ago, the petition without precaution is presumption. You have a challenge in your life?

Yes, tell the Lord but maybe there's something you ought to do for him. It isn't all, Lord I got all these problems here and I'll just leave them with you and check in with you once a week, see how you're doing. They continued third the process of building. That is they went back to the wall, they stayed at the task, they returned their eyes to God and they returned their eyes to the goal.

One of the strategies of the enemy is to so focus us on the rubbish and the enemies that we forget. We're in the process of building. Building. Building character, building lives, building ministries. And then fourth, they committed to defending one another. Nehemiah said in verse 20, basically when you hear the trumpet, drop everything and run. And come where you hear the trumpet, the Lord's strength will enable us to fight the enemy. In other words, be prepared to link your shield of faith with those others among you and their shields of faith.

The principle is this, no one should fight alone. Going past halfway will call for several things. Number one, it will call for spiritual vision. Remember the Lord, he is great and awesome. Whenever you are confronted by the challenges of life and the hurdles of being halfway, what do we tend to forget? That the Lord is great and awesome.

The lure of the red dragon is so dipped into the pond of our lives that we forget that our Lord is great and awesome. Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer, was mired in despondency. He went on for weeks around the home and in front of his wife.

He was so mired down with the challenges of trying to reform the church, if you can imagine that, in Europe, facing battles and fighting wars none of us would know anything of. But he was so despondent that after several weeks an event occurred, his wife walked into his study wearing all black and he said, who died? She said, God did. He came up out of his chair, he wrote and said, God did not die.

And she said, then live like it. Remember the Lord, he is great and awesome. Are you discouraged? Remember the one who is so agonized in prayer that he sweat great drops of blood as his capillaries under his skin burst. So in agony was he. Are you treated poorly or even rejected by some? Remember the one who was despised and rejected and no one esteemed him, nobody considered him important. In fact, they ultimately rejected him and crucified him. Are you suffering with some sorrow? Remember the one who would wear the nickname, man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.

Remember the Lord, he is great and awesome. When I first read that, I got to tell you, I thought, is that all? Nehemiah, that's not going to motivate anybody. That's it? That's all the speech you're going to give and you're going to expect people to go back and risk their lives? But that was it.

Why? Because that's all you need. Remember the Lord, he is great and awesome. Going past halfway hurdles, my friends also require stubborn faith. Like my friend Charlie and his wife who clung to their shields of faith and served the Lord faithfully, clinging stubbornly to the reality of God's person, to the truthfulness of God's promises and the security of his providence.

Thirdly, going past halfway will demand unselfish assistance. The people began to serve one another even more diligently. Verse 21, they worked until the stars came out. Verse 23, they went without changing clothes. They were willing to rally together and fight for each other. They didn't look to themselves, they looked to the task at hand and to others.

Nehemiah and the people were thus rescued from the lure of the red dragon, the lure of discouragement. And they continued to build the wall of Jerusalem. I want you to know that everyone in this auditorium is in the process of building walls. Some in here are building walls between themselves and others. Tall, thick walls. Others, and I think most others, tend to build walls around themselves and creating their own private towers. We build little shopping malls in there to keep us distracted and we bring all our toys in there and our stuff and we hook a satellite dish up to the wall of the tower and we get everything we need to ever have to think about anybody else but us, but me, myself, and I. I'm protected from the enemy in here. My friend, you have become the enemy. C.S. Lewis wrote some powerful words.

Let me read them to you. If you want to make sure of keeping your heart intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries.

Avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, it will change. It will not be broken.

It will become unbreakable. The enemy knows that all too well and he baits his hook with discouragement and waits to see if some believer will take it and abandon the wall for their own little tower. If we could rewrite the timeless truths learned in Nehemiah chapter 4 that help us hurdle the halfway, it would simply be these. Number one, refocus on what's important. What's your goal?

What are you trying to build? What are you trying to accomplish by the grace of God? Refocus on that. Second of all, remember upon whom you rely. And then upon refocusing and remembering report for duty at the wall. I find it very easy to get halfway into a project only to become bogged down and discouraged.

Maybe that's you as well. These principles will help you if you apply them diligently. You're listening to wisdom for the heart with Stephen Davey. Today's lesson from our series through Nehemiah is called halfway. You can go online and listen again.

Simply navigate to wisdomonline.org and click where it says today's lesson. And while you're there, please consider sending a note. We're always glad to get a note from a listener. Cynthia from North Carolina said, my husband and I listen faithfully every morning. We've been blessed so much and appreciate your faithfulness to the scriptures. Thanks again for listening today. We're so glad to have you with us.

We're going to continue through Nehemiah next time. So join us here on wisdom for the heart. We're so glad to have you with us today. We're so glad to have you with us.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-30 00:18:21 / 2024-05-30 00:28:44 / 10

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